September 19, 2013

Trust Within Teams – A Lesson from Stephen Covey

I recently attended the Trust conference, hosted by Talent Dynamics and sponsored by DPG. Its purpose was to explore the meaning and measure of trust and how we can all harness it to conduct better business. It was the words of the keynote speaker, Stephen M R Covey, with which I most strongly identified.

An increase a company’s trust culture by 10%, says Covey, has the same impact as a 36% increase in pay. And the impact of trust is more pervasive – it goes well beyond an individual’s pay packet and feeds through to the engagement levels of an entire organisation.

The cost of mistrust, by contrast, runs into many millions of pounds. Covey asked the audience to identify someone with whom they have a high-trust relationship and someone with whom the trust levels are low or non-existent. For each relationship, he asked these questions:-

1.??? What is it like to work with this person?
2.??? What is communication like?
3.??? How long does it take to get things done?
4.??? What kind of results are you able to achieve?

Unsurprisingly, we discovered that the two types of relationships were very different. In a high-trust relationship, communication is spontaneous; you could even say the wrong thing and be understood.

In our business, know all too well how important trust is. Multinationals today assemble project teams from across different cultures but then pay little attention to how well these teams work together. To feel able to trust your colleagues, particularly if they are culturally and geographically diverse, has obvious benefits – an efficient multicultural workforce, strong team dynamics, greater engagement productivity and customer satisfaction.

In a low-trust relationship, by contrast, communication is guarded, stressful, and cautious while misinterpretation is common. I could see more clearly than ever the enormous gulf between trust and mistrust as I did Stephen Covey’s excellent exercise with my fellow attendees.

What does trust in business mean to you?

How do you build trust with others?